Saturday, October 31, 2015

On the cusp of invention

My first job was working as a file clerk at NCR in the NCR Paper division. I was just a kid learning the ropes of working in a big office. It was not long until I was at a typewriter, answering phones and making copies. This is where I had first-hand experience with progress. We loaded up the typewriter with paper, carbon paper, paper. Most of the time, I had blue fingers and a waste basket full of mistakes.

Our copy methods were archaic as well. The first copier I used was a reflex copy machine. This nasty thing required toxic chemicals and copies that smelled like dirty socks. The copies faded over time and the special paper was thin. My finger tips were blue and now smelly. Thank goodness that our first Xerox machine came into being. We were one of the first to get this fantastic copier as we were NCR Paper, and this was a necessary piece of equipment to our product testing.

So what is NCR Paper? Well, one of our think tank people named Dr. Barry Green came up with a process called encapsulation. Ink filled capsules covered a sheet of paper. When pressure was applied, the cells broke and the image appeared. No more blue fingers and  less mess. Working in this ground breaking division equated to adventure. We secretaries became their trial and error workers. Yardley wanted paper that smelled of red roses, so we typed on paper encapsulated with ink and the essence of a flower garden. Believe me, you can only take so much of smelling roses. We sat on the paper to see what effect it had on the capsules. We tested different processes in ways to make typing corrections on this new paper. We typed on multiple pages and stored them to test longevity of imprint.

I seemed to advance quickly from file clerk to executive secretary. We grew from a small office to one that was in demand due to the fast growing market. Soon we advanced from encapsulated paper to time-released capsules and heat sensitive products that became fads. I have one of the first mood rings that was developed by our department.

In 1978 our division was sold to Appleton Papers in Appleton, Wisconsin. They were already making our paper, so sending us up north made sense. I was in a family way and planned to be a stay-at-home mom. The years I had worked for the company had been interesting and fascinating. It was difficult to sit on the sidelines.

My grandkids do not know the name NCR. They have no idea what impact our division had in all fields. I just bought time-released vitamins and remembered those days again. Mood necklaces and rings still are in stores. We have gone from carbon paper to encapsulated paper to computers. A whole new field has opened. Sometimes I feel as though my life has been a series of beginnings. I have seen the end of one process and the beginning of a new one. Working at NCR allowed me to see a process of where an idea became reality. It was exciting, fascinating.

Once in awhile I put on that old mood ring just to check out to see how my mood is doing after so many years. I do believe that the color has gotten a bit warmer over time. I grew up quickly back then. Working in the city in a professional field taught me about a wider world. Working with a group of wonderful people who took me under their wings, taught me about the business world and life. I learned to stand up on my own and evolve with the changes that were taking place in our society.

From blue tipped fingers to a mood ring. From Red Roses to time-released capsules. From Ohio to Wisconsin. On the cusp of invention.